Scientists call it “childhood amnesia.” As infants we somehow manage to store and retrieve vast quantities of functional information. Yet, around three-and-a-half years of age, “the memory chips of the human mind begin to experience failure,” according to the article “Forgotten Childhood” by Patrick Rogers in the Time special edition The Science of Memory.
By age seven, our early childhood recollections are essentially gone. Experts theorize lack of language and immature cognitive skills account for this memory erasure.
But … [my] alternative, more pragmatic explanation is possible as well. It is based upon our natural survival instinct. In a nutshell, here’s the thinking: As infants, our personal satisfaction is the highest priority of our parents and care providers. We’re virtually guaranteed a life of ease through use of the simple, age-old cry-and-response routine. Because of these years of coddling and pampering, we grow soft and spoiled. Which is why, in nature’s way, this effortless existence gets erased — forcing us to fend for ourselves. It’s basic Darwinism, “survival of the fittest.”
So, our brain must erase the memories of once enjoying the lifestyle of the rich and famous, which included a personal groomer, chauffeur, chef, valet, event coordinator, social media coordinator, even sycophants or more explicitly “ass wipers.”
Fortunately, around four years old we begin training for a more austere, self-reliant future. Infancy becomes a fading memory, simply great while it lasted. But everyone must grow up, nature determined, by literally and figuratively forgetting the past.